Category Archives: Rag Bloggers

Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | In the Brit mystery series ‘Grantchester’ a vicar and a village cop solve numerous murders and other crimes

The estimable Robson Green stars in this rural whodunnit, whose exciting second season returns to P.B.S. on Sunday, March 27.

Grantchester

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | March 26, 2016

[In his Rag Blog column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Grantchester is yet again one of those smart, well-made, excellently performed British procedural cop shows, this one set in the small Cambridgeshire village of the same name, back in 1953. James Norton stars as Anglican priest (and former Scots Guards officer) Sidney Chambers who develops a sideline in sleuthing, with the initially reluctant help of Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (the always wonderful Robson Green). The series is based on The Grantchester Mysteries collections of short stories, written by James Runcie. His father was a WWII tank commander and later the Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Marilyn Katz :
Chicago activists should be commended, not scolded, for shutting down Donald Trump’s rally

Peaceful resistance doesn’t egg on Trump’s supporters: It forces them to back down.

<> on March 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago demonstrators at Trump rally in Chicago on March 11, 2016. Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images / In These Times.

By Marilyn Katz | The Rag Blog | March 23, 2016

CHICAGO — Something strange is happening here, and it merits a serious discussion. In the week that has passed since Chicago shut up Trump, both the mainstream and other media have seen a rush of articles criticizing not Donald Trump but the protestors who shut his rally at the University of Illinois-Chicago down, defending Trump’s First Amendment rights but not those of the demonstrators.

Writers from David Moberg and Clancy Segal on the Left, to moderate Ron Grossman of the Chicago Tribune, to right-wing ideologue Charles Krauthammer strangely agree on one thing: that the anti-Trump demonstrations and “violence” will turn off American voters and move them into The Donald’s camp.
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Johnny Hazard :
The Mexico City area has been hit by a
major ozone crisis

One reason: Mexico City’s 10 million people simply won’t give up their cars.

Mexico City smog

Photos from Yamile Requena.‎

By Johnny Hazard | The Rag Blog | March 20, 2015

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MEXICO CITY — After a couple of days of unusually cold, windy, and rainy weather made pollution levels drop, Mexico City has faced an ozone alert since Sunday, March 13. The causes:

  • March is the beginning of the hot, dry season.
  • Leaders of the right-wing PAN political party won an injunction in July against Hoy no circula, the program that, for decades, forced certain cars to stay parked one day a week to reduce traffic and pollution. While the injunction really only forced changes in the program, city officials decided to cancel it almost completely, allowing more than 600,000 more cars per day on the road.

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Kate Braun :
The Spring Equinox falls on Palm Sunday
this year

The Zodiac begins its cycle as Lord Sun moves into Aries, sign of the Ram.

spring equinox 2013

Satellite image of the Earth at the spring equinox on March 20, 2013. Image from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) / LiveScience.com.

By Kate Braun | The Rag Blog | March 19, 2016

The Vernal or Spring Equinox, also known as Ostara and Lady Day, falls on Sunday, March 20, 2016. This date is also International Astrology Day, and this year it is the date of Palm Sunday. The Zodiac begins its cycle as Lord Sun moves into Aries, sign of the Ram, a Cardinal Masculine Fire sign.

Use the colors pink, yellow, light green, and all pastels in your dress and decorations. Incorporate representations of eggs and rabbits as well as living plants into your decorations; Mother Earth is awakening from her winter’s nap and life begins anew. Clusters of wild flowers would also be appropriate for this season.
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Marilyn Katz :
Stopping Trump: The Chicago model

Faced not with the threat of violence but lack of control of the message or the montage, Trump retreated.

Donald Trump Speaks

Donald Trump with mouth open. YouTube grab of video by Redsilverj / Creative Commons image.

By Marilyn Katz | The Rag Blog | March 15, 2016

CHICAGO — Congratulations to the people of Chicago — young and old, Black, Latino, Asian and White, Muslim, Christian and Jewish. They did what neither his competitors nor the Republican Party have been able to do — still the voice and the vitriol of Donald Trump.

The protestors, a loose amalgam of labor, women, immigration, students, and Black Lives Matter activists, didn’t do it through violence, or shouting. No dirty tricks — just the old fashioned way. They organized.

It all began early this week with an online petition to the University of Illinois-Chicago to deny Trump the use of the publicly-supported facility on the basis that the rally posed a threat to the security and safety of students. This tactic, in turn, led to two others. First, using their extensive email lists, they encouraged us to secure tickets through Eventbrite. It ensured that opponents of Trumps’ racist, anti-choice, anti-immigrant policies and statements could secure seats in the pavilion.
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Jimmy Lohman :
Trump rallies: The case for silent protest

This is not about ‘freedom of speech.’ It is about proper tactics for confronting an enormous evil.

Trump Rally Protest in Chicago sm

Chaos at Trump rally at UIC Pavilion, Chicago, March 11, 2016, after announcement that Donald Trump was postponing his appearance. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

By Jimmy Lohman | The Rag Blog | March 15, 2016

It is a mistake to shout down Trump and disrupt his rallies. Outside the rallies, anything goes: as we used to chant, “The streets belong to the people.” But inside, opposition to the horrific specter of Trumpism is best served by silent protest.

Trump is no longer just a “threat.” He has transformed the political landscape by galvanizing a massive national constituency that thrives on racial hatred, sham phobias, and nationalistic mania. Of course, confronting Trump’s neofascist tidal wave is a moral imperative, but his ascendancy also creates the opportunity for an even greater groundswell for a progressive forward-seeking alternative. The attractiveness of that alternative runs the risk of being undermined by protest actions that alienate the average American or in any way play into the aspiring Fuhrer’s hand.
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Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | ‘Cold Squad’ is first-class Canadian procedural with sharp female head

Vancouver is setting for smart 98 episodes in which hundreds of B.C. baddies get their comeuppance.

Julie Stewart in Cold Squad.

Julie Stewart in Cold Squad.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | March 9, 2016

[In his Rag Blog column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Cold Squad is a sharply written Canadian policier from Matt MacLeod (Rizzoli & Isles), Philip Keatley (The Beachcombers), Julia Keatley, and 22 other clever scribes in which old cases get reexamined and successfully solved. It’s set in crime-infested Vancouver, where other great cop series like Da Vinci’s Inquest and Intelligence are also situated.
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Michael James :
Parachute opens, sunflowers & stolen bikes, New Age networks, thinking about the champs, 1983

The big open field suddenly rushed closer and I hit the ground with a grateful, relieved, welcome thump and tumble.

James 28 - 1983 Summer, bike rack, sunflower, HC 2

Bike rack and sunflower at the Heartland Cafe. Photos by Michael James from his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James’ Pictures from the Long Haul.

By Michael James | The Rag Blog | March 2, 2016

[In this series, Michael James is sharing images from his rich past, accompanied by reflections about — and inspired by — those images. These photos will be included in his forthcoming book, Michael Gaylord James’ Pictures from the Long Haul.]

During the late summer of 1983, I took my first and probably last leap out of an airplane. My friend Kim Cole initiated the adventure; it started with a drive to a small airstrip surrounded by cornfields near Bristol, Wisconsin. We joined a score of others donning white coveralls and paid very close attention to the instructor, Bud, as he introduced us to the details of our pending jumps from a small plane.
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Harry Targ :
Hillary Clinton and the declining
American empire

The war against the Qaddafi regime that destroyed Libya’s social fabric was enthusiastically endorsed by Secretary of State Clinton.

Hillary Clinton London conf on Libya

Clinton at London meeting to discuss NATO military intervention in Libya, March 29, 2011. Image from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office / Open Government License / Wikimedia Commons.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | March 1, 2016

“I think President Obama made the right decision at the time. And the Libyan people had a free election the first time since 1951. And you know what, they voted for moderates, they voted with the hope of democracy. Because of the Arab Spring, because of a lot of things, there was turmoil to follow.” — Hillary Clinton quoted in Conor Freidersdorf, “Hillary Defends Her Failed War in Libya,” The Atlantic, October 14, 2015

“Nearly three and a half years after Libyan rebels and a NATO air campaign overthrew Muammar al-Qaddafi, the cohesive political entity known as Libya doesn’t exist.”  — Frederic Wehrey quoted in Conor Friedersdorf

 
Building an empire

In a recent book by distinguished diplomatic historian Lloyd Gardner (Three Kings: The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II, The New Press, 2009), the author describes the last day of the historic Yalta Conference just before the end of World War II in which the leaders of the allied powers met: President Franklin Roosevelt, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
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Shepherd Bliss :
FILM | Robert Bly: Tribute to a radical poet

Robert Bly has made a big difference in the lives of many, bringing a contentious, creative presence into his prophetic work.

Robert Bly film

Poster for Haydn Reiss’ film about the radical poet, Robert Bly.

By Shepherd Bliss | The Rag Blog | January 6, 2016

Poet Robert Bly, now 89 years old, is a radical, by which I mean he returns to the roots. Haydn Reiss has captured him in his new, moving film “Robert Bly: A Thousand Years of Joy.”

Watching the film was a trip down my memory’s lane, dating back to meeting the National Book Award-winning poet in the sixties. I was in boot camp training at Ft. Riley, Kansas, home of the Army’s First Division, the Big Red One. I intended to follow our family tradition, which gave our name to Ft. Bliss, Texas. I was on my way to the American War on Vietnam.
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Philip L. Russell :
Mexico’s Peña Nieto at midterm

The president’s low ratings reflect not only his performance but also the inability of his government to address basic problems facing the country.

Pena Nieto caricature sm

Caricature of Peña Nieto by Armando Aguayo Rivera / Flickr.

By Philip L. Russell | The Rag Blog | January 4, 2016

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853px-Rag_radio2Listen to the Rag Radio podcast of Thorne Dreyer’s interview with Philip Russell, who discusses issues raised in this article. The Rag Blog‘s Alice Embree joins us in discussion of developments in Central America and Cuba. This show originally aired Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, 2-3 p.m. (CT), on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin. Find all podcasts and more about Rag Radio here.

  • Read Philip Russell’s earlier Rag Blog article on Peña Nieto’s first two years, here.

The poor are even poorer; the levels of violence and insecurity have shot up. The immaculately coiffed president has remained unmoved and overwhelmed by the national crisis. The job has been too much for him. — Elena Poniatowska, 2015

December 1 marked the halfway point in Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term. His first year in office was by far his best. On day two of his presidency he announced the Pact for Mexico — an alliance of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the center-right National Action Party (PAN), and his own Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI).
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Maxine Phillips :
Do Christians and Muslims worship the
same God?

For non-Muslims to understand diversity among Muslims seems to be a leap too far.

Muslims praying sm

Image from MuslimVibe.com.

By Maxine Phillips | The Rag Blog | January 3, 2016

In December, a tenured political science professor at evangelical Christian Wheaton College was placed on administrative leave for a posting on Facebook. Next to a picture of herself wearing a head scarf, she wrote,

I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay… [and] I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.

True, three major religions in the world have one God as their source. But is it the same God?
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